Croissants

So. I did a thing. Hint: lots of butter, flour and waiting were involved.

I’m not gonna sugar coat this one. These are very time consuming. They require exact timing, measurement and technique. But, more importantly, are so insanely worth it that I recommend you skim right to the recipe and get started (OK, maybe finish reading this, but see how much I want you to make these??)

The croissants begin in a luxurious place: the dough is warm, soft and milky. Rich and creamy butter is folded in, starting the lamination process. Lamination is the fancy term for the creation of those crazy flaky layers that every croissant-lover (I’m gonna guess every single person) knows and craves.

This is where patience is required, patience that will pay off greatly, not to worry. Fold after fold, you continue to create the marbled and laminated dough which must be chilled in between. 

Once the dough is finished, it gets rolled into an immense rectangle (make sure you have the entire counter free) and divided into skinny triangles. I made most of mine plain, but stuffed a little semi-sweet chocolate into a few because, um, why not??

When these bake. O my god. The smell? Straight up butter, warm dough and something else magic?? I don’t know, maybe I was a little delusional after spending 24 hours folding and waiting for these to come out, but the aroma of these croissants blew me away.

I’m going to lie and say that I had some self restraint and didn’t burn my fingers and mouth eating one right out of the oven. It’s cool. You should do the same, it’s that worth it. 

Fresh from the oven, there’s really nothing better. The outside has become golden brown, crispy and so flaky that you’ll soon be covered in buttery crumbs. The inside is soft, warm and stretchy in the best possible way. When you’re cutting and rolling the croissants, it feels like you’ve made an impossible amount. But when they’re warm out of the oven? That thought quickly changes as the baking sheets become emptier and emptier. 

So, next time you're looking for a serious baking project with huge payoff? Whip out some flour and some butter and embark on a croissant adventure. 

Croissants (recipe from here)

Makes about 22 croissants

1.5 cups warm whole milk (about 105 degrees F)

0.25 cup packed brown sugar

1 tablespoons + 0.5 teaspoon active dry yeast

3.75  – 4.5  cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon salt

1.5 cups (3 sticks) cold, unsalted butter

1 egg, beaten for brushing

1. To make dough: Combine milk, sugar and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let sit until foamy, about 5 to 10 minutes. Once foamy, add 3.75 cups flour and salt and begin mixing with dough  hook, on low speed. Mix until the dough is soft and has come together, about 7 minutes. Transfer the dough to a well floured counter and knead for about 2 to 3 more minutes, until dough is silky and smooth. Form into a rectangle, about 1.5 inches thick, wrap in plastic and let chill in the fridge for 1 hour.

2. After the dough has chilled, make the butter block. Place the three sticks of butter next to each other with the sides touching. Pound them down with a rolling pin, you can also use your hands to keep the rectangular shape. Place between two pieces of plastic wrap, or parchment paper, and continue to roll out until the butter rectangle is 8 x 5 inches. Wrap in plastic and let chill in the fridge. 

3. While butter chills, roll out dough. Transfer chilled dough to a lightly floured counter and roll into a 16 x 10 rectangle. Make sure that the corners remain square, stretching with your hands if necessary. Next, take out the butter slab and place in the middle of the dough. Wrap dough around butter like a letter, one third directly on top of the butter, and the other third on top of that. Turn the dough so the short end faces you and begin to roll again (this is where the laminating magic begins). Roll into a 10 x 15 inch rectangle, rolling to the ends but not over them. Fold again like a letter, folding the thirds on top of each other into the middle of the dough. Again, stretch so that the corners are square. This should form a 10 x 5 inch rectangle. Wrap in plastic and let chill in the fridge for 1 hour.

4. Repeat the above step 3 more times, a total of FOUR folds. Make sure to let the dough chill for 1 hour in between each fold, this is very important and will create the dreamy and flaky layers. After the final fold, wrap tightly in plastic and chill for 8 to 12 hours (I let mine go over night and baked them in the morning).

5. Once dough is completely chilled, roll out on a lightly floured counter into a 20 x 32 inch rectangle. Yes, that is giant. Yes, it is necessary. Yes, you can do it. Once rolled, using a pizza cutter, slice dough down the middle, creating two rectangles that are 10 x 32 inches. With each of the strips, cut tall triangles. You should get about 11 out of each strip. On the short side of each triangle cut a 2 inch slit. This is where you will begin to roll them, pulling the two "legs" towards each other as you go. If you want chocolate croissants, add about 0.5 an ounce of dark chocolate right above the slit and roll as usual. Once rolled, I attached the two "legs" to get a nice rounded shape in my croissants. Some detach during baking, but it does help give them more shape. Once all have been rolled, place on lined baking sheets about 2 to 3 inches between each. Let proof in a warm place, under a clean dish towel, for about 1 hour. 

6. As croissants proof, preheat oven to 450 degrees F. When croissants are fully proofed, brush with egg and bake for 12 to 13 minutes, or until golden brown on the outside. 

7. Enjoy fresh, it's kind of a life changing experience.